Angela Sawyer is a titan of Boston area
underground music and general weird culture.
A veritable fountainhead of WHAT WE HERE ARE TALKING ABOUT!
She runs an exquisite record store in Central Sq. Cambridge called
WEIRDO RECORDS, and she also plays in two of my favorite
bands in the city: Exusamwa & Duck That.
Can one person be responsible for more awesome stuff???
I don’t think so.
Hey look! I asked Angela a coupla dumb questions!!
1) How did you get into the record
Weirdo’s 2nd birthday is a couple of weeks away, but this summer will mark my 20th year working in a record store of some sort. For me it was more of a slow ooze than a dive in, so when people ask me how I got here I usually answer, 1 wonderful record at a time!
2) What have been some of favorite
records that came out in the past year?
My 2010 top ten, as well as some by a few select folks around town:
3) You play music too. Will you tell us a little
about the music you make?
I play in a few different bands, some of them play live, some of them record, some of them do both.
Exusamwa: Doug from Fat Day is the leader of this band and its guitarist/vintage synth collector/studio engineer. Nell from Goat of Arms plays drums and omnichord, Anne plays bass, stuffed frog, & other assorted synths. I sing, roll around on the floor at shows, and play ukulele. Neil is currently in charge of puppetry. This week at least, we’re thinking of adding a kalimba. Most of the songs are under 30 seconds, and some of them have loud squealing, so I usually describe it as a hardcore band. We’ve made a couple of 3 inch cds, and are working on a record.
Duck That: This is a rather clattery improvised jazz trio, in which all the members play hunting calls (you know, the thing you take along with your gun to make whatever you’re shooting at come closer to you while you wade around in the bushes). Steve Norton (Debris) also plays baritone & alto sax, clarinet & percussion, Josh Jefferson (Skinny Vinny) plays alto too. I play electronics from time to time, and we have a habit of throwing a lot of stuff all over the floor whenever we perform. We’ve made a cdr & a split record, & are working on a cd.
Preggy Peggy & the Lazy Babymakers: This is a song-based recording project which I have with my friend James, & sometimes other bands’ sounds get lent to the process as it’s going along. It’s heavy on vocals & overdubs, unfunny jokes, sample chop-ups, etc. Has been around for 5 or 6 years, and has put out a few cdrs, an lp, a few tapes, & so on. The first 2 live shows of the band’s existence were in 2010.
Human Hairs: This is a duo with my friend Saul. We both like sound poetry records, so this is basically an attempt to make a lot of strangled, gargling noises. We’ve made a tape or two & a cdr.
There are always a few other one-off projects… kinda like the musical version of fantasy baseball. To me, every band and every record is like a pair of glasses that allows you to view the world through a slightly different shade. Between the intersection of things that I can do and things that I want to do, I try to get to as many colors going as I can.
4) Who are some of your favorite bands/music makers
from the New England area?
New England has a long & vigorous tradition of completely sick, deep & amazing music. All those students from different places means that musicians around town usually have a turned-on-and-buzzing sense of range & variety. And with New York City so close by, it also means that few are fool enough to go around like they’re king of the hill, even when they’ve tapped into the most intense musical secrets of the universe.
My favorite bands: Needy Visions (absolute truth, Dan), Rotten Apples, Fat Worm of Error, Noise Nomads, The Sound of Pot. There’s a ton of improv shows happening these days, lots of house venues, multiple handmade event calendars, 4 different college radio stations, DJs spin a huge swath of eras & styles at the local bars. You could go to a mind-blowing & completely unique show every night of the damn week and still not catch everything. Boston positively hops with world-class unusual sounds, like no place else.
5) Would you care to pontificate a little on how you feel the world of selling
records has changed in the last few years and it what ways this is good or bad?
I get asked *a lot* what I think about record stores. The short answer is, record stores are places dedicated to helping you expand & develop the part of your head that makes music happen. How fantastic is that? I’m fall-down-lucky that I get to spend all day inside one. I think that the internet mostly highlights & underlines things that already exist apart from computers, and so I’m glad it’s there to do such things for record stores too. One of the days when I happened to be in a particularly garrulous mood about the whole thing was this one:
Angela’s band Exusamwa: